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I have a site about a town in a country. My site was listed in a directory which only included links that were related to that country. The directory was a subdirectory of a site about that country, containing tons of great content. The directory uses 301 redirect links. The link looked something like this:
www.[fake site].com/dir/links/123 and allowed them to show how many clicks you had from it.
Recently I was checking some of my keywords in Google. I found some high-ranking results which contained the title and snippet from my home page with www.[fake site].com/dir/links/123 instead of my URL. Is that normal for a redirected link?
I didn't know if this was OK, so I sent an email to Google to ask them. It took them a long time to reply. In the meantime, I tried to do some research. From what I understood, since it was redirected it shouldn't be a duplicate content issue. I checked the backlinks on the fake-site URL-and the backlinks were the links that linked to my site.
Today I got an response from Google. They suggested I contact the owner of the other site and ask them to remove the redirect.
The other site has removed my listing (and made sure to mention they blocked my IP from adding any more sites to their directory).
Does it sound like that site was up to something sneaky?
[edited by: ciml at 11:08 am (utc) on Sep. 3, 2004]
[edit reason] De-linked. [/edit]
What I am trying to figure out is...if a directory redirects a link to my site:
How does it end up in Google with my homepage's title and description and the directory's url?
If it was a 301 redirect, why did Google tell me to have them remove the link?
I can PM you an example of what I am talking about if you don't understand.
About a month after the offending site removed the link (at my request), I wrote to G to ask them to fix the listing in the SERPs. A few weeks later the listing disappeared.
...Which is really too bad, since the fake listing that was redirecting to me had a higher position in the SERPs than my "real listing" did.
Most searchers for latest widget news know the well-marketed and linked address:
widgetnews.foo, in line with most major media distributers, generates a dynamic URL which points towards a static page for the latest news, allowing better indexing, as well as reducing server load, and could well include a session or other info:
Which would Google be right to index? Will SE users looking for widgetnews latest want to see the long non-descriptive URL which keeps changing, or the nice friendly URL which people always link to?
The model only breaks down when other site use redirects to your site, and they seem a lot more important than your site does to Google (sorry about that), which now considers that your real URL is just where the content is stored, not where it belongs in terms of a user-based hiarachy.
The same thing happened to me. Actually my problem was with Yahoo where as a result my site got banned due to the redirect link. I am now going through the process of getting the site back into their index. The problem is there are many directories using these kinds of links. They mean no harm they do it just to track click through. However, both Google and Yahoo's bots are not sophisticated enough to recognize these links for what they are.
Either these links should be ignored or they should be interrupted as just another link to the site instead the current way the bots understand them which is to see them as duplicate content.
> there are many directories using these kinds of [incorrectly redirected] links. They mean no harm they do it just to track click through.
Most do not mean any harm, but some do. In Maia's case, it sounds like they did it intentionally to achieve the reported result.
Server response codes have specific meanings to browsers and search engine robots. It is not up to the search companies to redefine these meanings; If they did, things would be a lot worse than they are now. Rather, it is incumbent upon Webmasters to use the correct response codes, and to check that sites that link to their sites also use correct server response codes.
200-OK ------------------------ Index this page content at this URL.
301-Moved Permanently --------- Go to this new URL and index that page content using that (new) URL.
302-Found (Moved Temporarily) - Go to this new URL and index that page content using this (old) URL.
If someone who has this problem cares to experiment, I'd like to know what happens if you ask one of these badly-linking directories to link to a page on your site and then use a 301-Moved Permanently redirect to redirect that page to a new page. In other words, if you add a permanent redirect to the end of a redirection chain involving 200-OK and/or 302-Found redirects, does the spider follow all of those redirects and does the final 301 on your own site "fix" the problem?
Generally you can tell if they cloak by comparing the actual page where the link was to the cache of that page in the Google results (though it may take some time for the cache to be updated to recent changes). If the page and its cache are identical, they probably don't cloak. If they're reasonably identical except for minor changes that could be explained by time differences between the cache and the original, they still probably don't cloak. If there are big differences then they either cloak or they have done major revisions to the page and the cache is not up to date.
About 3 months back, found out a directory that listed my site used a META refresh to redirect to my URL. The redirecting URL had taken on the position of my site. i.e when I search for my URL in Google, it showed the redirecting URL. Ranks dropped on account of that, reported to Google, got a reply too! that they will look into the matter, restored my site URL back in Google, and just yesterday restored the ranks too in their original positions.
Huh! Need I take a break? :-)
Best wishes Maia
That is awesome Google took care of the problem in your case.
I have exchanged several emails with them, but they don't seem to see any connection between my homepage, and only my homepage, being dropped after the other site appeared in the SERPs with the redirect to my site.
What Google told me is that the changes I cite are consistent with normal fluctuations and not indicative of wrong-doing or penalization of individual sites.
If I didn't get dropped due to duplicate content, I wonder why Google, themselves, told me to ask the other site to remove the redirected link to my site.
I guess they must view meta-refreshes differently than a 302 redirect.
Good luck to anybody else that encounters this.
If you click the link, it first goes to a page in the site, then to the site it is linked to...
These are links that are generated by a link database tool, open source, that a site I know of uses...
I know for certain that the site using this database tool is only using it to count clicks so that it can display the most popular links it shows... they do not charge for the links and dont claim that these are reciprocal links to other sites...
[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 2:47 am (utc) on Sep. 8, 2004]
[edit reason] No specifics please! [/edit]
Today I noticed that my site has been hijacked also. The results in the SERPs show my title and the rollover shows my text but the link goes to [widget.com...]
When I check the header at this address, I got HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 15:14:48 GMT Content-Type: text/html . The actual page shows nothing, blank except for a meta refresh to my page. No title, no nothing.
If you do a link:www.widget.com/out.cgi?id=618, it shows EXACTLY all my backlinks as if I did link:mydomain.com
I was able to remove the page through an editing tool (thank the stars).
Now when I checked the header I got HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 15:18:44 GMT Server: Apache/1.3.29 (Unix) location: [widget.com...] Connection: close Content-Type: text/plain
This clearly now shows a 302 to their main site.
How long will it take to straighten this mess out?
Will deleting this link eventually put my page back in the SERPs (it is totally missing now)?
Do I report this to Google?
I have found several directories that are using this method of a meta refresh to my site. Should I report all of them?
Has anybody else gotten any satisfaction from Google on this?
Anyway, thanks for the responses...
>>How long will it take to straighten this mess out?
After G found out that the redirecting page was removed it restored site at previous position at SERPs in 2 days.
>>Do I report this to Google?
Not sure. I just used google remove page tool to speed up the process.
>>I have found several directories that are using this method of a meta refresh to my site. Should I report all of them?
That's the question i ask myself. I think that G actually counts such redirected links. The site becomes hijacked only when the PR of redirecting site is bigger.
See this latest post about page hijacking [webmasterworld.com]
a lot of this is going on, I lost my main index page to a hijacker, emailed Google days ago, but no word from them yet.